Monthly Archives: October 2017

Excerpt from “The Most Beautiful Walk in the World” by John Baxter ~~Foie gras~~

My own introduction to foie gras was, in a way, my introduction to France, and to the rigor that sustained its apparent self-indulgence. On a visit to Paris in the 1970s, when Marie-Dominique was my girlfriend and not my wife, we lunched at one of the big brasseries near the Gare du Nord, where, she suggested I might enjoy foie gras as a starter.
Well, try anything once. And I didn’t want to appear gauche by admitting it was my first time.
The thin slices of liver, gleaming gold and beige with the slickness of fat, arrived, garnished with the gelée that gathers when it’s cooked. A metal dish contained slices of thin dry toast folded in a napkin.
“There’s no butter,” I said, scanning the table.
“Why do you need butter?”
“For the toast.”
“For foie gras, you don’t butter the toast.”
“Dry toast isn’t very inviting,” I protested. “Couldn’t we ask the waiter?”
Her vehemence was startling. I shut up and ate my toast dry – to find, of course, that she was perfectly right. Foie gras is as fatty as butter and to combine the two would have been absurd. Even worse, from the French point of view, it would have transgressed the spirit of comme il faut – the way things should be. In doing so, it would have also, which was worse, invited the derision of the waiting staff (“Can you believe, this plouc of a tourist wanted butter with foie gras!”) and thus made us look foolish. This had already happened on an earlier trip to Paris for the BBC. After a hard day of interviews, the producer and I returned to our hotel and, not realizing the French never drink cognac before dinner, ordered a reviving Courvoisier while we waited for Marie-Do, whom we were taking to dinner.
As she sat down, the waiter asked superciliously, “Mademoiselle also desires a digestif?”


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Filed under Literature, Non-Fiction

Excerpt from “Not Dead Yet” by Phil Collins ~~Audition~~

The first person I see is a tall, distinguished-looking fellow in carpet slippers and what looks like a Noël Coward smoking jacket.
The only thing missing is a Sobranie being inhaled through a cigarette holder. He’s youthful-looking, but wonderfully casual, the kind of guy you want to be when you grow up. But if this is Peter Gabriel’s dad, how young is Gabriel?
Turns out it’s not his dad, it’s his band mate. Mike Rutherford, nineteen, is the bassist/guitarist with Genesis. Like my dad, his dad has a lot of experience with boats. Except his dad is a Royal Navy admiral.
A grand piano has been hauled on to the terrace, and hovering in the shadows, about to play it, is another chap. He introduces himself as Tony Banks, Genesis’ twenty-year-old keyboard player. My first impressions? I don’t really have any. Tony is reserved to the point of invisibiity, another politely spoken young man who won’t say boo to a goose – unless, I soon find out, that goose plays the wrong chord.
Finally I meet Peter Gabriel. He’s twenty and cut from the same fine cloth as his band mates. His demeanour can be summed up as hesitant, one hand clutching the other arm at the elbow, almost shy, very embarrassed, don’t-look-at-me-I’m-not-here. He’s in charge – well, his parents are, it being their house – but doesn’t want to be seen to be in charge.
‘Um,’ he begins, ‘maybe we should go indoors and listen to the album in the living room?’

Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford, Peter Gabriel, Steve Hackett, Phil Collins

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Filed under Literature, Non-Fiction

Dialogue from Film – “An Affair to Remember” ~~Appointment~~

I’ll bet you’re wondering how I got here.

Well, yes. Yes, yes, I am.

Well, I was looking through a telephone book for a man named McBride.
And I came across the name T. McKay.
And I said to myself, “Now, could that possibly be Terry McKay, my old friend?”

And it was!

Yes, yes.
And then I said to myself, “Well, now, I haven’t been very nice to Miss McKay.
After all, I had an appointment with her one day, and I didn’t keep it.”

You didn’t keep…

Well, so I said to myself, I talk to myself quite a lot these days, I said, “Well, that’s not a very nice way to treat an old friend like Miss McKay. I must apologize to Miss McKay.”
Don’t you agree when someone doesn’t keep an appointment they should apologize, hmm?

Yes. Oh, yes, I think you’re absolutely right.
I… Well, I think the least people could do is to say they’re sorry or something.

So here I am.

That’s very sweet.

I thought so.

I’ve often wondered about you.
And how you were.

Did you really?

Yes, really.

Well, I’ve often thought about you, too.
Then you weren’t angry because I wasn’t there?
I mean, you must have been at first.

Well, yes. Yes, yes, I was. At first, I was furious.
I said, “He can’t do this to me. Who does he think he is?”

Hmm. How long did you wait?
I mean, did you wait long?

Well, let’s…
Well, yes. Yes, I waited until about…



And then what did you do?

Well, then I got really mad.
Well, you can imagine, standing up there on the…

Yes, in a thunderstorm.

In a thunderstorm.

Then what did you say to yourself?

Well, then I said, “Go on home and get tight.”

But you didn’t do that.

Didn’t I?

No. Well… Maybe just a little one every hour for about a month.

Can you blame me?

Oh, I should say not.
The least I could have done was to have sent you a note.

Well, perhaps by the time you thought of it, you didn’t know where to reach me.

But you swore if you ever saw me again you’d ask.

No. No. I remember we said that if we could make it, we’d be there.
And if one of us didn’t show up, it would be for a darn good reason.

Did we say that?

Yes, that is exactly what we said.

Well, like what for instance?

So, there’ll be no more questions asked, I hope?
Would you like a cigarette?

Nickie: (SIGHS)
Thank you.

Thank you, Nickie.


Filed under Dialogue

Excerpt from “A Hard Day’s Night” by John Burke, based on the screenplay by Alun Owen ~~Puddles~~

Ringo moved away along the pavement.
A young woman came around the corner and headed towards him.
Now this is what Grandfather had been talking about. She was dainty and elegant, and it made you feel good just to look at her. There might be clouds in the sky behind and above her, the traffic might be gushing diesel fumes and the coke brazier might be laying a pall of grit across the pavement; but when creatures like this appeared, you knew that the world wasn’t such a dump after all.
The girl was stepping neatly, smilingly around a series of puddles. As there had been no rain today that Ringo could recall, the puddles must have come from a burst water main (which perhaps the workmen were repairing), a window cleaner’s clumsily handled pail (going up as the workmen dug deeper), or the dregs of a series of teapots (tossed away by the workmen after one of their breaks).
The setting was right, the mood was right. Ringo twitched the mackintosh from his shoulders and, with a flourish which would have turned Sir Walter Raleigh pale with envy, swept it across one of the puddles as the girl approached.
She faltered, then smiled graciously and walked over it.
Ringo backed away in front of her, whisking the mackintosh away and spreading it over the following puddles. The girl laughed and Ringo laughed back at her. Yes, you had to admit it: there were more things in life than beating out four in a bar and putting your earnings in the Post Office.
Suddenly the girl disappeared. One moment she was there, the next she had gone. And Ringo’s mackintosh had gone, too. By now, well and truly in the rhythm of the thing, he had reached out to snatch the coat away and spread it over whatever dark patch appeared next. But he groped at thin air.
And then the girl was yelling. And a man’s voice, a bit muffled, was adding a bass continuo.
The man appeared. He waved something in the air to get it freed from his head and arms – and the something was Ringo’s mackintosh. And the man, his head peeping furiously over the edge of the hole in the road, had someone clinging to him. It was the girl, collapsed over his shoulder. The workman tried to straighten her up, and found himself pinned in the hole with his arms round her.
Ringo, in what might be described as a flash of intuition – though this is not how the workman was describing it right at this moment – decided that he must have spread his raincoat over space rather than over a puddle. It was an unfortunate but perfectly understandable mistake.
The trouble was that nobody seemed disposed to understand. There was a general air of unpleasant criticism about.
A smart young man came hurrying round the corner as though he had lost something or as though he were anxious to catch someone up. His sleekness matched that of the young woman and it was clear that they belonged together. It was also clear that he was hurrying to catch her up and that he had in fact lost her – down a hole in the road, into the arms of a stupefied workman.
The workman was climbing out, supporting the girl.
The young man dragged the workman’s arm away from the girl’s shoulder and hit him, careless of the strikes or go-slow decisions which might result.
Ringo decided to abandon his mackintosh. He backed cautiously away over another sequence of puddles, and then turned to run.
He ran straight into the waiting policeman.


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Filed under Fiction, Literature